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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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as being responsible for the communique regarding the Katyn murder.
The Poles, acquainted with Russian methods, had no doubt but that the
Soviet Note, severing relations between the two countries, uncovered the
greatest political crisis in the Second Great War, and the beginning of
Russo-British rivalry for the domination of Europe and part of Asia. It
was clear that, whatever terms used by the Kremlin towards Poland, it
boiled down to only one demand, e surrender.' It was £ renounce half
your country and place in the remainder a friendly government under
our control.' This was what e surrender ' meant to Poland. Therefore,
the first demand was not really so essential to the Soviets, since once the
Polish Government had come under their control they could establish
whatever frontiers they desired, or else not even establish frontiers, since
they would be annexing the whole country. The real meaning behind
this Note was " shall Poland exist ? '* " Shall the Europe which is being
fought over exist ? "
The ruling Russian class laid claim to knowing the c genuine opinion'
of the Polish people better than the Polish Government itself, and on this
ground demanded drastic changes within that Government. Such
demands were nihil novi in'the Polish-Russian historic relations. The
Tsarina, Catherine the Second, had put forward the same principle in the
eighteenth century when, as c guarantor of the freedom and independence
of the Polish Republic,' she had assumed, that not only had she the 'right,'
but it was * her duty ' to nominate persons to positions of authority in
Poland, extending this c privilege ' even to the throne itself. The result
of this protecting policy had been the partition of that country. Stalin
similarly wished to decide who in the neighbouring countries would be
sufficiently pro-Soviet enough to hold a governmental position: The
demands of the Kremlin's over-lord were made in quick succession—each
one fulfilled became valueless to him and a fresh one, for new concessions
would be pushed forward . . . Finally, under some trifling pretext, the
victim, almost unaware, would be locked in the prison of the Soviet Union.
The majority of the Allied Press approached the question of the
Russian-Polish break from the view-point of the Westerner, and were
unable to appraise the situation at its true value. It was only after a year
of continuous Russian aggressive action that this understanding began to
dawn, In the meantime, the situation remained confused. " The plain
truth of history is that, for Russia and for Germany, a living and strong
Poland is a necessity," wrote the Manchester Guardian on June 18. " It
can be a bulwark of peace for them; its absence involves a constant threat
of war. Stalin, like the realist statesman he is, has learned the necessity
of Poland to Russia and has declared for a strong and independent Poland."
This comment was alien to Moscow. First and foremost, imperialist
Powers, such as Russia or Germany, were not endeavouring to have any
6 bulwark of peace' for such a * bulwark' would only call a halt to their